3 Tips On How To Improve Your Relationship
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate…Clearly
A wise man once said that a person can never be too clear. Communication issues are often at the root of most relationship problems. Most arguments are due to misunderstandings or miscommunications.
You are not the poster child for communication and that is not your fault. You learned to communicate from the experiences you had when you were a child. It may have been from watching your parents communicate or watching other caregivers communicate. Most likely, those people learned to communicate from THEIR families of origin as well.
What does become your responsibility is the ability to make changes once you realize that there are communication issues in your relationship.
Most people listen and don’t truly hear what their partner is saying. Most people are listening in order to form a response or “defend themselves.” Some people are even planning their “verbal attack” while their partner is talking. Either way, listening to genuinely understand your partner is the secret.
You want to keep your responses concise and to the point. Bringing up past issues, cursing, interrupting, name calling, sarcasm and hitting below the belt (along with many other unhealthy/disrespectful communication pitfalls) are counterproductive to wanting to have a respectful conversation.
Clear communication includes;
- Allowing each other to speak
- Being concise and to the point
- Paraphrasing what your partner says
- Being able to be empathetic by seeing things through your partner’s eyes.
Seeing things from your partner’s point of view does not have to mean agreeing with them. It means you have enough respect for your partner to be able to listen and take the time to make them feel heard. After all, that is exactly what you want as well, right?
Don’t make assumptions.
Many people make the mistake in believing/assuming that their partner is out to get them. And quite honestly, if that is the pattern in your relationship and you have reason to believe that your partner is out to get you, then counseling may be required ASAP.
You want to believe your partner only wants the best for you and you want your partner to believe that you only want the best for them as well.
Making assumptions about your partner, and even worse, making NEGATIVE assumptions about your partner is a slippery slope you don’t want to find yourself going down.
The best way to reduce or eliminate assumptions entirely is to refer back to Tip #1 which is communicating and clarifying. If you feel that you partner is taking you for granted, or not treating you equally or not appreciating you, then don’t assume that is their intention. Have a discussion with them about this. Pick a good time and place and have an honest, respectful discussion. It is dangerous to assume things about your partner.
You want to have your partner’s presence be the safest place in the world to be. And this is done by giving your partner the benefit of the doubt, clarifying and communicating and catching yourself when you are defaulting to assuming things. Research shows that most people assume incorrectly because they tend to put their own personal spin on things. You already know that we all see things differently because you and your partner have had different life experiences leading to different ways of viewing the world.
Accept your partner for who they are
Don’t start dating someone you believe is a “diamond in the rough” and who you feel you can mold into the partner of your dreams. That scenario rarely lives up to your expectations and your partner often gets resentful as they begin to feel that they are “always doing something wrong” in your eyes.
There is a wonderful quote used in AA/NA. It is called the Serenity Prayer and it goes like this:
Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
This can be used in countless situations. Think about how it can relate in your relationship.
Don’t make the mistake of starting to try and change your partner. Can your partner tweak and modify some things? Sure, it’s possible but only if your partner WANTS to. Their changes are NOT in your hands. You cannot control your partner. This can speak to the importance of picking a partner whom you feel you can compromise and make concessions with and for.
Do you feel like your relationship needs to get put back on track?
Call me, let’s chat.
Laurie Shoats L.M.F.T. (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist)
Real Life Solutions Counseling, Inc